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Summer and Bird Hardcover – October 2, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525953469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525953463
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #856,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Two sisters awaken in a forest cottage to find their parents gone, the secret inside their closet breached, and nothing but a mysterious pictograph to point them forward. Summer and Bird set out into the woods to reunite their family but soon become separated. Alone, each must brave the forest’s hard beauty, exploring its mysterious corners to search for each other, and for themselves. Catmull’s stunning debut unleashes a fierce imagination to build a wholly original world, rich with the familiar shimmer of folklore and drawn with the elegance of a Russian ballet. There are rhymes and bird songs; ravens and snakes; a spirit guide with a vexing smile, born of a burning tree; and an evil, bird-eating puppeteer. And what of the avian-selkie Swan Queen, with her stolen cloak of feathers and feet of clay? As a piece of fantasy, this atmospheric adventure thrills with complex storytelling, carefully threaded with bits of foreshadowing and overflowing with poignant imagery. But lurking beneath the girls’ parallel journeys and heartbreaking reconciliation is an allegorical exploration of family, where the obscure difficulties and rewards of sibling loyalty and parental devotion become painfully, startlingly clear. Grades 5-8. --Thom Barthelmess

Review

BOOKLIST (starred review): "Catmull's stunning debut unleashes a fierce imagination to build a wholly original world, rich with the familiar shimmer of folklore . . .  This atmospheric adventure thrills with complex storytelling, carefully threaded with bits of foreshadowing and overflowing with poignant imagery."

KIRKUS (starred review): "A haunting fable inflected with mythological and fairy-tale motifs  . . . meticulous, symbol-rich narrative with a light, storyteller's voice . . languorously beautiful."

INDIEBOUND Fall 2012 New Voices Pick: "Lyric in its language and layered in its complexity, this is a book like no other.  . . . as much about the complexities of family relationships as it is about quests, magic, growing up, and the worlds that exist just beyond our own."

Amazon Editors' Picks in Fall 2012 Reading for Kids & Teens

Amazon Best Books of the Month for Kids & Teens: October 2012

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
It is a great book for young readers.
Chairman Jobs "Steve"
Summer and Bird is a new classic -- the writing is achingly beautiful, the story a delicate telling of an epic tale, the characters vivid and human and haunting.
Real Thing
This is a lovely book for adults and children to share.
Michael Godwin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Cordelia on October 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I read this book as an adult, but I wish it had come out when I was eleven or twelve. This is the kind of book that would have helped to shape the person I became.

It deals with issues like sisterhood (which seems simple, but ask any pair of sisters just how complicated their relationship can be), the pure but hardly selfless love of children for their mother, the selfless but sometimes conflicted love of a mother for her children, and a strained relationship between parents, and how it affects their children. All of these difficult topics are approached head-on, and unflinchingly, but with a strange and alien filter of magic and folklore that makes the book more accessible to a young and imaginative audience. It is a story about heroism, about love in all forms, and about the magic in the world that is always there. I loved it, and would read it again and again, and I'm saving it to read aloud to my daughter.

"We lose our mothers and look for them everywhere."
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jerry M. Withers on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Finished Summer and Bird last night - great family story with a good arc, a touch of mystery with fine foreshadowing, nearly always elegant and precise prose often bordering on poesy, and highly recommended as one of the best fantasy novels I've read (and I've read many hundreds of them). Far beyond any usual expectations, not just those for a first effort. Can't wait for her next novel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ruskin Teeter on November 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just emailed my DIL to order three copies of SUMMER AND BIRD for my pre-teen granddaughters and send the bill to me. This is a very good book - thoughtful and serious, yet fanciful enough to appeal to young readers. On the outside, it's a lyrical story of two sisters, Summer and Bird, who set out to find their parents after they mysteriously disappeared from their home in the dead of night. On the inside, it's the story of a family's disintegration, but with a sweet, not a bitter or sad ending. That ending is foreshadowed by an early reference to a verse in the King James version of Genesis: "I will not let thee go except thou bless me."

I believe Katherine Catmull's rich and fluid prose will appeal to a broader audience than was originally intended. Parents will appreciate her familiarity with Kafka, Keats and Blake, as well as the challenging vocabulary she sets before their children - words like "cerulean," "nexus," "hieroglyphic," and "balustrade." And who cannot appreciate a well-turned phrase - "a rushing sound beneath the quiet," "a white wing edged with rippling sable," or "an appetite opened wide as a hatchling's beak."

As an aside, when I first glimpsed the title I read it to be "Summer Bird," and I half expected a story about the famous racehorse of that same name, winner of the 2009 Belmont Stakes, and now retired to stud at Winstar Farm in Kentucky. But alas, the story of that famous racehorse family - Storm Bird, Dear Birdie, Birdstone, and Mine That Bird - will have to wait. Who to better write it than Katherine Catmull?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Godwin on October 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This (breathtaking accomplished) first novel sometimes reminds me of Tolkien or Lewis with its heightened language and imaginative creations. And of course it's aimed at Young Adults, and what matters for them most, even more than the sense of wonder, is that the young characters and their language feel emotionally true (that truth is large part of the power of Rowling and Pratchett). Catmull gives us all this in SUMMER AND BIRD, and that is why, I think, adults as well as well as younger readers will like it. SUMMER AND BIRD reminds me a great deal of the enjoyment with which I first read Madeleine L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME. I reread the L'Engle book again and again as a kid, and (much later) with great enjoyment as an adult, and I expect to come back to SUMMER AND BIRD the same way. This is a lovely book for adults and children to share. It's also an excellent exemplar of the kind of book Tolkien describes in his essay "On Fairy Stories" -- books set in a Secondary (imagined) World that confront readers with darkness but also with joy. 'It is the mark of a good fairy-story," Tolkien writes, "of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the "turn" comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality.' SUMMER AND BIRD has that same "peculiar" (and lifting-of-the-heart) quality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. Rosenberg on December 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I read the Kirkus and Booklist starred reviews of this book I knew I'd love it. Katherine Catmull is a gifted storyteller with all the heart of Hans Christian Andersen, all the gothic power of The Brothers Grimm, and more magic than J.K. Rowling. Buy this book for everyone who loves a fabulous tale that deepens the mystery and the beauty of life -- everyone from age 8 to 80.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carly on June 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was written in a different style than I usually read, but it was a nice change. The language was mesmerizing and there were so many lovely vivid images that I was really inspired by as an artist. It starts off intriguing, then the pace slows down, but by the last quarter or so I couldn't put it down. The sections with little action were just brimming with imagery, though. The relationships between the characters was really well done but it often felt depressing..... I dunno, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book emotionally, which I think is what makes a book most memorable (in a good way.)

PS I loved Ben. He was my favorite :)
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